German Boy Says Thanks for All the Fish

The Síldarvinnslan fishing company in the remote East Iceland village of Neskaupstaður received an unexpected letter of thanks from a satisfied customer in Germany last week.

“The letter writer is a young boy in Cuxhaven,” read a post on the company’s Facebook page. “His name is Hauke Nörenberg. In the letter, he describes his satisfaction with the fish from Síldarvinnslan and sends the company his regards…It isn’t often that consumers see fit to send their thanks for good products in this way.”

The company sent their young fan a photograph of Blængur NK, the ship on which the fish was frozen at sea, as well as Síldarvinnslan company swag.

You can read Hauke Nörenberg’s letter (in German) on the Síldarvinnslan Facebook page, here.

Costa Considers Opening Location in Iceland

Costa, the second-largest coffeehouse chain in the world, is proposing to open a franchise in Iceland, Vísir reports. The corporation is currently considering locations in downtown Reykjavík, although it is not currently known who will hold the franchise license in Iceland.

Costa, which was established by Italian immigrants to Britain in 1971, is the largest coffeehouse chain in Britain and operates 3,800 locations in 32 countries worldwide, the majority of which are in Britain. A spokesperson for the corporation says that the company’s goal is to operate 1,200 coffeehouses in China before 2020. The corporation was purchased in 1995 by Whitbread, which also owns and operates Premier Inn, the largest hotel chain in Britain.

Kennel Club Urges Shorter Quarantine for Imported Pets

The Icelandic Kennel Club is calling for a reconsideration of current laws regarding the quarantine of domestic pets that are brought into the country, RÚV reports. Herdís Hallmarsdóttir, the kennel club chair, says that the original rationale for such a lengthy quarantine does not hold up to current research and laws in other countries with similar ecosystems.

Currently, pet dogs being brought into Iceland must be quarantined for four weeks. This time period was based on arguments long maintained by Icelandic scientists, namely that foreign domestic pets introduce parasites into the Icelandic animal population and a four-week quarantine is necessary to discover and eradicate these pests. At the request of the Minister of Agriculture, a foreign veterinarian began a risk assessment in relation to the quarantine of dogs and cats last fall. This assessment was expected to be completed by April, but as of yet, remains unfinished.

In an interview on a Rás 2 radio program on Thursday morning, Herdís said that the Icelandic Kennel Club is awaiting the results of this assessment with interest and in the meantime, has familiarized themselves with the rules that are in place for pet importation in other countries. “We know that there is a very sensitive ecosystem in New Zealand,” she remarked. “We know that’s a country that’s very similar to Iceland. Six years ago, they decided to reduce the quarantine period down to ten days with vaccinations and requirements for treatment that the dogs need to undergo before they come to the country.”

Herdís also points out that pet owners in New Zealand are allowed to visit their animals while they are in quarantine, a possibility she wants to have considered in Iceland as well.

“What we want is a reassessment of these regulations,” she said. “The last evaluation was in 2003 and much has changed since then. If quarantine is necessary, it’s imperative that it be organized such that the animal is as comfortable as possible.”

Whale Watchers Come to the Aid of Beached Bottlenose Whales

Whale Watching tour guides found themselves in the role of rescuers on Thursday when members of their expedition spotted two bottlenose whales that beached themselves on the shore of Engey island just off the Reykjavík coastline, RÚV reports. The animals were thought to have chased mackerel up onto the beach and gotten stuck there.

Guests on an afternoon whale watching expedition with Special Tours saw the beached bottlenoses and reported it to the staff, who quickly took a small boat out to the island to try and help the animals. When he reached the shoreline, Sverrir Tryggvason said that the whales were alive and breathing, but that there was a great deal of blood around them on the shore. It was decided that he and his fellow rescuers would attempt to keep the animals alive until high tide – between 8:00pm and midnight – when they would hopefully be able to swim away again. Moving the animals earlier was not an option: full-grown bottlenose whales can weigh between three and three and a half tons and measure seven to nine meters in length.

The rescuers’ first step was to cover the animals with towels and pour water over them so they wouldn’t become too dry in the sun. Later that afternoon, the tour operators turned rescuers were joined on Engey by biologists, as well as members of Search and Resuce, the Coast Guard, and others. They decided to transport a seawater pump to the island so that water could be more easily poured over the animals in greater quantities. (See videos of the rescue efforts on RÚV here and here.)

Unfortunately, one of the whales died around 7:00pm, about an hour and twenty minutes before the other was able to free itself in the rising tide and swim back out into the ocean (see video here). Rescuers followed behind the whale for a short time after and said that it swam away in the direction of Snæfellsnes. Dr. Edda Elísabet Magnúsdóttir, a marine biologist at the University of Iceland who specializes in whales, said that the result was unexpectedly good, considering that bottlenose whales should normally not be able to survive for so long on dry land. Usually, they’d be expected to survive for around two hours once beached, but rescuers were able to keep the second whale alive for six hours before it was able to swim away again.

Bottlenose whales have frequented Icelandic waters this summer, particularly in the north and east of the country.